I was just about starting to feel better—the antibiotics seemed to have kicked in for my dental issues, and it had been some days since I'd left the house, and I was at last starting to get itchy feet. So, a wander. But where? Well, there were a few industrial bits near Winterstoke Road in the Ashton/Ashton Vale areas of Bristol that needed walking. I knew they were likely to be quite, well, unattractive, frankly. So why not do them while I wasn't feeling exactly 100% myself? Maybe it would fit my mood. Hopefully you're also in the mood for a bit of post-industrial wasteland, for that's what some of this feels like...
Then, at the last minute, I thought again about the Bristol International Exhibition—I've got a book about it on the way now—and that gave me another goal, which could just about be said to be in the same direction, and I decided to walk significantly further than my normal 1-mile limit and try recreating another historical photo...
Sadly I don't know much about the Ashton area; it's just on the edges of my mile and I rarely have cause to go there. It's brimming with history, I'm sure: the whole South Bristol area rapidly developed from farmland to coal mines to factories to its current interesting mixture of suburbs and industrial work over the last few hundred years. As a more working class area less attention was paid to it by historians, at least historically-speaking, than the Georgian heights of Clifton, and much of it has been knocked down and reinvented rather than listed and preserved. I see here and there some of this lack is being addressed, but I'm afraid I'll be very light on the history myself on this wander, as most of my usual sources aren't throwing up their normal reams of information as when I point them at Clifton, Hotwells or the old city.
Okay, it's not very well-hidden, and it's not particularly treasure-y, either. I think, in hindsight, this was the most excruciatingly boring bit of the walk.
I thought from the map there might be a way across the line here, too, but it looks like it's all locked up.
We're now through BS3 and into BS13, which the Bedminster Down district falls into. This sign's certainly seen better days.
14 Nov 2020
I wonder how old this note is?
I'm afraid that this is a bit of a badly-curated wander, where I mostly just popped out to find out a little of the history of Underfall Yard and poke around the various open workshops, and, in hindsight, really didn't take pictures in any kind of coherent order. So there's a lot of pictures, but they don't really tell the story that, in hindsight, I seem to have been trying to tell, of the unusual electrical substation in Avon Crescent, the Bristol Electricity that predates the National Grid but is still in use, the history of the hydraulic power house... It's a bit of a mess.
But I suppose sometimes these wanders—always chronologically presented in the order I walked and took photos—simply will sometimes be a bit of a mess. Let's hope you still get something out of it, anyway...
I've mentioned before the suggestion (apparently from Pete Wills, senior electrical engineer) that this building is haunted by the ghost of a worker who fell from the roof into the building but whose body was never found... Maybe I should have waited until Hallowe'en to feature the substation!
You can't see much. If you want some photos of the current sorry state of the interior, have a look at this Tweet from Pete Insole, Historic Environment Officer at Bristol City Council, and founder of Know Your Place.
Most of the gear in this docks machine room is belt driven from a motor we'll see in a bit. The motor is electric but the drive system is pretty much the same as it was in the days of steam.
Along with the older belt-driven machinery there's some electric bits & pieces. I thought this might be where the "Bristol Electricity"—the 360V special supply from the substation—was used, but apparently not.
I guess the gearing is changed in the traditional way, by someone with a stick moving the belts across to the next diameters along. Apparently that used to be the emergency stop in the old days, too, some bloke poking at the belts with a pole until they fell off. Probably not ideal if it was to stop someone being sucked into the mechanism...
26 Oct 2020
A dash around the harbourside to see if I can get to Mokoko and back in my lunch hour.
This was my first wander and I was still getting the hang of the technology. I managed to record only part of the way back on my GPS, by the looks of it, so I've had to bodge things a bit to pick up the photos, which is why there are photos in places the track doesn't reach!
I also need to fix a few technical things including managing my photo timezones more carefully. This wander was the day after the clocks went back for winter, and I think my camera may still have been in BST, which may not have helped me tie things up. Need to do a bit of research into how my cameras, Lightroom and the code I'm writing on this website handle BST and GMT, but at least I have until the last Sunday in March before things get urgent, I think...
Mokoko's almond croissant are one of my favourite treats in Bristol. I'm glad they're pretty much diametrically opposite me on the harbourside—if they were easy to get to I'd be a lot fatter.
02 Nov 2020
I've taken a lot of photos of Royal York Crescent over the years. This time I walked right to the dead-end bit at the far west corner and found a plaque to the Empress of the French. Call me hard to impress, but among the scientists, novelists, architects and artists whose plaques litter the rest of the area, that seems quite minor claim to fame.
03 Nov 2020
A very local exploration today, but there are still bits of the near field that I never need to walk down, so it didn't take me long to find somewhere I haven't been in a decade or more, the little enclave of smaller Victorian houses around Oldfield Road and Sandford Road. I'd really like to live in one of those houses, but I doubt I could afford it.
04 Nov 2020
Someone told me, years ago, that someone had got planning permission to convert this building into flats, but had been refused planning permission to remove this handsome historic door. I have no idea how true that story is, but it seems plausible. The building is Granby House, on the corner of Hope Chapel Hill and Granby Hill.
05 Nov 2020
I spotted the fog and decided to go for a morning walk rather than a lunchtime walk today. It was cold on the Portway, but it was worth it. Most of my One Mile Matt photos are "record shots", but it's nice to get the chance to do something a bit more artistic.
There are a lot of car crashes on the Portway. I don't know how many end in fatalaties, but I feel like I hear about at least one every year. In a luckily non-fatal crash in 2019, an ambulance even managed to crash, ending up on its side.
I think that non-emergency vehicles probably tend to drive far too fast for the Portway when it's quiet as it looks like a nice fast road, but it clearly has some well-disguised dangers. Either that or they're all pissed.
06 Nov 2020
It's surprisingly easy to overlook the giant Wesleyan Grenville Chapel—now converted into flats—if you've lived here a while. Other sights that seem to slip from my memory include the modest Ashton Avenue, a tidy terrace of little houses on a road that presumably gave its name to the Ashton Avenue bridge.
09 Nov 2020
I like The Paragon as a terrace, especially the bowed porches. On the other side of the road, a house attic has a stone lion surrounded by rocaille leaves, according to its listing.
I also love the detail of the arrows in the wrought iron of The Mall's balconies. Today I discovered Westfield place, a road I'd never encountered that runs up to the rear of the Coronation Tap. (It's a famous local cider pub, but I've only been in a couple of times. I'm more of a beer man.)
I've always loved the arrow details on The Mall's balconies.
I was particularly intrigued by "MARIA EDGEWORTH his aunt visited here". It's this Maria Edgeworth, a prolific writer, apparently. "She was the second child of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (who eventually fathered 22 children by four wives)", so I imagine Thomas Beddoes had quite a few aunts...